Thursday 26 May 2016

Bobby Gardiner and friends playing at his TG4 Lifetime Achievement Award 2015

"Bobby Gardiner is a legendary accordion player and teacher. He was born in the townland of Aughdarra near Lisdoonvarna in north Clare in 1939. There was music in the blood. His mother, Dilly, played a German two- row concertina and from her he learned his first tune – the fling What the devil ails you? His brother introduced him to a new Hohner two-row button accordion and after that, Bobby bought a grey Paolo Soprani accordion.

"An elderly concertina player by the name of Margie Flanagan lived near his grandparents’ house and her hearty style also left an impression on young Bobby. Later, he was also influenced by the recordings of Tipperary man Paddy O’Brien’s and his mastery of the B/C system of accordion-playing. He had also heard and greatly admired all the old masters on the 78 gramophone recordings – Coleman, Killoran, Morrison, John Kimmell and box player Michael Grogan. Other influences included the piper Patsy Touhy, flute player John McKenna and the Flanagan Brothers.

"He remembers vividly playing for mummers’ dances (Wren Boys) which lasted all night. He had many sessions with the Russell brothers, Paddy Killourihy, Willie hannon, Gerald O’Loughlin and Tom Doolan on fiddles, Micilín Conlon, Tommy Scullane, Murt O’Dwyer, and Peter Griffin on accordions and Chris Droney on concertina. Pattey Flanagan of Doonagore, Doolin was another influence as he had a rare collection of tunes, some with different versions. In the 1950s, he joined the Kilfenora Céilí Band and also played with Malachy Sweeney’s Céilí Band from Armagh." Posted on Youtube on the 19th of February 2015 by TG4.

Explore County Clare

Posted on Youtube on the 22nd of May 2016 by Cacogee Multimedia.

Walking on Black Head, County Clare

"Some HD footage of my adventures today on Black Head "mountain" in County Clare, Ireland!" Posted on Youtube on the 16th of May 2016 by Esther Kempen.

Surfing in Lahinch, County Clare, March 2016

Surfing in Lahinch, County Clare, March 2016. Posted on Youtube on the 21st of March 2016 by Jonathan Marr.

International Dublin Literary Award 2016 - Shortlisted Titles

Public libraries around the world nominate titles for the International Dublin Literary Award (formerly known as the Impac award), which typically results in an eclectic shortlist of prizewinners and less well-known titles - and 2016 is no exception. Four novels in translation have made the shortlist: Outlaws by Spanish author Javier Cercas; The End of Days by German author Jenny Erpenbeck; Diary of the Fall by Brazilian author Michel Laub; and Our Lady of the Nile by Rwandan author Scholastique Mukasonga. There are two debut novels on the list and one each by Man Booker winner Marlon James and Pulitzer prize winner Marilynne Robinson. Irish novelist Mary Costello’s Academy Street is also on the shortlist.

At €100,000 the prize is the world’s most lucrative for a single novel published in English and is open to novelists of any nationality. The winner of the 2016 award will be announced on June 9th.

The novels shortlisted for the 2016 International Award are:

Outlaws by Javier Cercas
Academy Street by Mary Costello
Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Diary of the Fall by Michel Laub
Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga
Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Family Life by Akhil Sharma

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Funding Available for National Play Day and National Recreation Week

Clare County Council invites applications from groups who wish to provide recreational and play activities to children and young people under 18 years for National Recreation Week (3rd - 9th July 2016) and National Play Day (3rd July 2016).

This fund is targeted at groups who wish to provide “Commemorating 1916” themed activities for children and young people under 18 years for either of these events. This financial assistance is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

National Play Day is generally targeted at children up to 12 years and National Recreation Week targets the 12-18 age group.

The award criteria will include:

Relevance to the theme & age category
The use of the grant
The focus of the activity
The number of participants
The date or dates over which the activity will run
The likelihood that the activity will be undertaken regularly by young people after the Recreation Week and Play day is ended
The level of matching resources (financial and personnel) that will be contributed by the promoting organisation

A brief application form and further details are available from the Tourism & Community Development Department, Clare County Council, Arás Contae an Chláir, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare, Tel 065-6846511. Email

Closing date for receipt of applications is 4.00pm on 3rd June 2016.

Plymouth University Students visit Clare Museum for Famine Emigration Project

Recently, eight Stage Two Geography students from Plymouth University visited Clare Museum as part of a week-long field trip to Western Ireland. They had chosen to carry out projects researching emigration from County Clare during the years of the Great Famine.

During their visit they spent two days researching archival sources held at the Clare Local Studies Centre where they were assisted by Peter Beirne, while Clare Museum staff had the pleasure of giving them a talk about emigration during the famine years.

In subsequent correspondence Plymouth University Geography Lecturer, Dr Nichola Harmer, who supervised the students’ projects, said:

“We were very grateful to John Rattigan for giving us a really informative talk about the causes, impacts and historical legacies of the Great Famine and the relationship between the famine and emigration from County Clare. This really helped the students to gain a deeper insight into the events of the time and they found the talk both thought-provoking and moving.”

The museum was delighted to assist the Plymouth students and it is a good example of the direction the museum is headed as an educational resource. An Education Policy is being drafted at present as the museum pursues Full Accreditation under the Heritage Council’s Museums Standards Programme for Ireland.

The policy is not only intended to make the museum more relevant to the primary and secondary school curricula, but will also provide support to national and international universities and will develop the museum as a resource for life-long learning.

The visit also highlighted the paucity of artefacts related to the Great Famine in the museum, a phenomenon shared by many museum collections. This is not surprising when one considers that those most deeply affected by the famine were the poorest in society, with few material possessions. It is also undoubtedly influenced by the meaning we give to and the memories provoked by objects – we are not inclined to treasure objects associated with trauma and they are consequently less likely to survive over time.

Of course, if you do happen to have an object or document that dates to the period of the Great Famine in County Clare, and would like to donate it to the museum, you can find out what would be involved here.

Such items would be a wonderful addition to the museum’s collection and would assist the museum in its educational programmes for schools and institutions such as Plymouth University in the future.

Image above shows museum curator John Rattigan (centre) and the eight students from Plymouth University at Clare Museum.

Friday 13 May 2016

Liam O'Brien & Cian Talty play some reels at Concertina Cruinniú, Miltown Malbay 2016

"Liam & Cian playing a set of reels during the Concertina Cruinniú 2016 in Miltown Malbay, County Clare." Posted on Youtube on the 29th of February 2016 by Liam O'Brien Music.

Clare Egan with Terence O'Reilly at Corofin Trad Fest 2016

"Clare Egan with Terence O'Reilly at the Corofin Traditional Festival on March 2, 2016. #04." Posted on Youtube on the 3rd of March 2016 by Niamhaines.

The Kilfenora Céilí Band with set dancers at Kilfenora Music Festival 2016

The Kilfenora Céilí Band with set dancers at Kilfenora Music Festival 2016. Posted on Youtube on the 1st of May 2016 by doolinmusic.

Kitesurfing in Lahinch, County Clare

"Kite surfing on the beautiful beach of Lahinch, County Clare." Posted on Youtube on the 17th of March 2016 by The Magic Camera.

Coast of County Clare and the Burren in April 2016

"A short video compiled from a trip to the Coast of County Clare and the Burren in April 2016." Posted on Youtube on the 2nd of May 2016 by Phil & Fran Gregson.

Tagging of Basking Sharks in Kilkee, County Clare

"The first basking sharks tagged of the Clare coast. Number 328 red was one of five sharks tagged off Kilkee by Simon Berrow. For more information visit" Posted on Youtube on the 17th of April 2016 by john collins.

The Bookseller’s 2016 YA Book Prize

The Bookseller’s 2016 YA Book Prize has an array of strong titles vying for this year’s prestigious award. The shortlist includes submissions from the UK and Ireland and includes historical thrillers, fantasy and dystopian satire. But whatever the subject or genre, all shortlisted titles are exciting and thought provoking.

The Costa winning book The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge pops up again in the YA Book Prize list beside The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, an interesting book that alternates between reality and dystopia exploring many relevant topics for teenagers.

Last year’s winner, Louise O’Neill’s second novel is shortlisted for her second book, Asking For It.

The other titles on the list are Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe, One by Sarah Crossan (also shortlisted for the Irish Children’s Book Awards) Unbecoming by Jenny Downham and The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson.

Also in the running are The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo by Catherine Johnson, Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne and The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury.

Full details of the YA Book Prize shortlist can be found at

The winner will be announced at a special event at the Hay Festival on 2nd June 2016.

Irish Children’s Book Awards 2016

The winners of the Irish Children’s Book Awards will be announced on the 23rd of May.

All shortlisted authors will be familiar to children’s book lovers with perhaps the exception of John and Fatti Burke whose beautifully illustrated, entertaining reference book, Irelandopedia, was the runaway publishing success of Christmas 2015.

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt was the highly anticipated sequel to the hit picture book The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) and featured in Time magazine’s Top 10 children’s books of 2015.

The fantastic collaboration between Oliver Jeffers and Eoin Colfer resulted in the creation of the much lauded Imaginary Fred, the second picture book included in the running for this year’s awards.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver is retold by Mary Webb in an exquisitely illustrated publication by The O’Brien Press and is a deserving contender for this year’s awards.

The Wordsmith by Patricia Forde published by Little Island Books is an excellent read for adults as well as children. Indeed this contender along with One by Sarah Crossan are notable for their original concepts as well as their story delivery.

John Boyne is never far from awards shortlists and this time it’s the turn of The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, a thought-provoking book that looks at the very best and worst in human nature through the eyes of Pieter as he and The Führer grow closer.

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill is no surprise inclusion. One of the most powerful books for young adults in recent years the author delivers a harrowing story based on the issue of sexual consent. A wide range of titles and genres in this year’s line-up makes choosing the winners no easy task.

Thursday 12 May 2016

Polska Éire Festival 2016 - Launch at Ennis Library

It is estimated that there are presently 150,000 Polish citizens living in the Republic of Ireland, resulting in Polish becoming the second most widely spoken language on the island. The Polish population in County Clare is approximately 2,500. The Polish Irish Association (PIA) was established in Ennis in 2013 by a group of Polish immigrants living and working in the town and county. The aim of the group is to help to facilitate a wider call among Polish immigrants in Clare to organise Polish cultural and national events. It is hoped that by promoting these events the group will help to encourage cultural integration between Polish, Irish and other nationalities and provide the opportunity to share Polish traditions with the wider community.

To champion the diversity that Polish people bring to Ireland, Polska Éire has been established as a nationwide festival. It is an event that was introduced in 2015 and has been strongly supported by former Minister of State Mr Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Ambassador of Poland Mr Ryszard Sarkowicz. In 2015 the festival was a fantastic success with almost 150 events held across Ireland. This year's edition of the festival has been prepared and managed by the group of devoted Polish and Irish members of the Polska Éire Steering Committee, chaired by Mr. Piotr Rakowski from the Polish Embassy in Dublin and supported by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and the Department of Justice and Equality staff. The aim of the festival is to promote and strengthen Polish-Irish bilateral relations, both at national and community level; to celebrate cultural diversity as well as similarities between the two nations; to further strengthen integration between Irish and Polish communities; to address important issues faced by Polish people in Ireland, such as multilingualism, identity and economic issues and to celebrate the diversity that Polish people bring to Ireland. The festival aims to accomplish all this by means of various cultural, sports, business, academic and community events.

The grand opening of the 2016 Polska Éire Festival will take place in the De Valera Public Library in Ennis on Thursday 19th of May at 6.30pm. It is the second time that the PIA is organising this event in Ennis. The launch will begin with the traditional Polish custom of welcoming guests with bread and salt. There will also be some traditional Irish treats on offer with a mix of Polish and Irish traditional music to entertain guests as they arrive. At 7pm Councillor James Breen, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council will officially launch the Polska Éire Festival, along with members of the PIA. Following the speakers, the library will transform into a cinema for a showing of the 1980 Polish cult movie Miś (Teady Bear) directed by Stanisław Bareja.

The Polish Irish Association and Clare County Library invite you to celebrate Irish-Polish friendship - the craic will be dobry! For more information on nationwide events during the Polska Éire Festival visit

A Chance for Young Burren Adults to ‘Subvert the Screen’ - The Ann O’Connor Dunford ‘Young Burren Ambassador’ Bursary 2016

Technology has transformed our lives in so many, largely positive, ways and its remarkable how young people in particular have engaged with it. It has been suggested however that our increasing use of technology has contributed to the growing ‘disconnect’ between us and the natural world that surrounds us. Perhaps we need to find new and exciting ways to enable nature and technology to work better together? We believe the young people of the Burren have the solutions as to how we can do this! That is why Burrenbeo Trust has opened a call for applications for The Ann O’Connor Dunford ‘Young Burren Ambassador’ Bursary 2016. This award aims to encourage teenagers and young adults from the Burren to explore innovative ways to enable technology and nature to complement each other and work in harmony. It is designed to encourage youth engagement with the Burren landscape, through exploring themes of environment, heritage and conservation.

In its 2nd year, the Young Burren Ambassador Bursary is awarded by Ireland’s only landscape charity, Burrenbeo Trust, to commemorate and honour the Trust’s late co-founder and patron, Ann O’Connor Dunford. Ann had a great vision for and belief in the capabilities and potential of the Burren’s youth; acknowledging and encouraging their role as the future custodians of this unique and special landscape. The winner of the bursary will receive support to develop an innovative project which will create awareness, be informative, showcase the Burren’s exceptional potential, and most importantly highlight the wonderful skills and imagination of the individual/group themselves. This is a fantastic opportunity for any young creatives, to think about new, fun and exciting ways to engage with the Burren’s unique landscape and community.

This year’s theme is: ‘SUBVERTING THE SCREEN - Harnessing the power of technology to explore and share the wonder of nature’. As Burrenbeo Community Engagement Officer Elaine Williams says “This is a fabulous opportunity for any young individual to think outside of the box, showcase their talents and explore the potential power of technology to reconnect people with nature. Burrenbeo Trust are extremely passionate about investing in the future generations of this unique landscape. It is through the support and generosity of its members, that this bursary is possible – so don’t wait around to apply, you could be the next Young Burren Ambassador!”

Applicants must be between 13 and 21 years of age and should have a strong connection to the Burren. The deadline for applications is 31st May 2016, with the awardee being announced on the 14th July 2016. For more information see, email:, or call 091 638096

Thursday 5 May 2016

Clare County Library celebrating creativity during the Bealtaine Festival in May

The Bealtaine Festival is Ireland's national celebration of creativity as we age. During May, all over the country Bealtaine events are running in arts centres, theatres, libraries, galleries, community centres, local halls, care settings, cultural spaces and even out in the open air! This year, the Festival celebrates its 21st birthday. For 2016, the theme is Iconic Citizens, which continues Bealtaine’s three-year exploration of Nationhood and Citizenship and specifically reflects on the first generations of citizens inhabiting the new Irish State. Bealtaine is an Age & Opportunity initiative part-funded by the Arts Council and delivered by hundreds of organisations around the country with over 120,000 people now taking part. From dance to cinema, painting to theatre, Bealtaine showcases the talents and creativity of both first-time and professional older artists.

Once again Clare County Library will participate in the Bealtaine Festival with a varied and widespread programme of events throughout the month of May in library branches throughout the county. All events are free of charge and everyone is welcome. Events will include movie screenings as part of the Bealtaine Film Tour which is presented by access>CINEMA in partnership with the Irish Film Institute, craft displays in selected branches, millinery demonstrations, talks and workshops.

This year’s chosen films for the Bealtaine Film Tour are A Walk in the Woods (2015) starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson, Mr Smith Goes to Washington (1939) starring James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains and Harry Carey and Irish film Men at Lunch (Lón sa Spéir) (2013) directed by Seán Ó Cualáin. Screenings will take place in branches in Ennis, Ennistymon, Killaloe, Kilkee, Kilrush, Scariff and Shannon where the libraries will be transformed into a cinema with a difference for your viewing pleasure. You can contact your local library for screening times or visit

Dr. Patrick J. Hillery Library in Miltown Malbay will hold a craft display of locally produced items from the 3rd – 20th May. These items include knitting, crochet, paintings, baskets and mosaics. To coincide with the start date of this display Marie Clohessy will visit the library to give a ‘How to make a Fascinator’ millinery demonstration on Tuesday 3rd May at 6.30pm. Marie will provide a similar demonstration in Tulla Public Library on Thursday, 5th May at 12pm. Kilfinaghty Public Library, Sixmilebridge will play host to a craft display produced by the local Men’s Shed with viewing available during library opening hours.

Author and landscape researcher Jackie Queally will give a talk entitled 'Legendary Landscapes of Clare' in the De Valera Public Library, Ennis on Wednesday 11th May at 12pm and in Ennistymon Public Library on the same date at 6.45pm. Jackie has woven together the rich store of legends in the various landscapes of County Clare into a meandering tale of interconnecting themes, highlighting the monuments and landscape features that have shaped deep mythical associations. There will be an opportunity at the end of the presentation for audience members to give feedback on their local experiences growing up or living in Clare. For more information about Jackie Queally visit

Cuimhneamh an Chláir, the Clare Oral History and Folklore Group, will bring an audio visual celebration of people from Clare involved in the 1916 Rising, taken from their archive, to Seán Lemass Public Library in Shannon. Presented by Jackie Elger and entitled “The Banner Rising”, this event will feature excerpts from interviews with local Clare people and will take place on Tuesday, 10th May at 6.30pm. Shannon Library will also host a 'Story Time with Granny and Grandad' on Thursday, 19th May at 11.30am. Grandparents are invited to bring their grandchildren along to a story time session where all the books read will be stories about grandparents.

The Library has teamed up with Friends Ireland, a group that provides volunteers to teach basic computer/laptop/tablet/mobile phone classes in Seán Lemass Public Library, Shannon on an ongoing basis. The classes are free and run in four week slots but places are limited and should be booked through the library at 061-364266. These classes are also being planned for the library branches in Ennis and Kilrush. For more information on Friends Ireland visit

On Wednesday, 11th May staff from Clare County Library will join Gavin Grace on Clare FM’s Morning Focus show to discuss the first book chosen as part of a newly launched radio book club. The Book Club is a collaboration between the two organisations and the first book for discussion is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

Clare County Library will also take a small section of the Local Studies Library on tour throughout the month of May when library staff will visit nursing homes and day care centres in various areas including Ennis, Ennistymon, Newmarket-on-Fergus and Tuamgraney. Excerpts from Clare Champion newspapers from times past will be transported, along with old photographs and local history books so that the material can be read and discussed evoking memories of those times past. The Local Studies Centre, on Harmony Row in Ennis, houses a complete set of Clare Champions dating back to 1903 which are available to the public for reference use. This year’s visits will also have a focus on material from 1916 as part of the centenary celebrations.

Senior Citizens can avail of free library membership in all of Clare County Library’s branches. So, during the Bealtaine Festival, why not join your local branch? You’ll discover a whole world of books, CDs, DVDs and much more. You may even join one of the many clubs being run including book clubs, movie clubs and scrabble clubs. A whole new experience awaits you! For more information on the Bealtaine events and much more visit Clare County Library’s website at or phone 065-6846350. For information on Bealtaine events happening nationwide visit

Image above shows Chris Droney playing some tunes in the Burren, County Clare.